I’ve been asked to explain “why” we’re getting people together in our community raising series. My answer has typically been “why not?” The answers to that question reveal more about the asker’s sense of optimism and, more than likely, that they are great candidates for more community face time. For your consideration…
How many times a year, a month, a week do you sit down at the dinner table with friends and family and have a conversation? If you do, you know the sense of connection when conversation becomes free-flowing and meaningful exchanges take place. Sitting down to eat with other people can be an inspiring, creative experience. Plus, reaching up and out as a group is sustainable, encouraging and fun. And that brings me to what we at home&community inc get out of holding this kind of gathering and how it’s related to our overall goals.
Our community food system and homesteading project relies upon this truth. For so long, it has felt like everyone is trying to do something but little is coordinated. Or there are a bunch of hoops when it’s a simple concept of growing and sharing. Between the universities, schools, community garden associations, food/homesteading bloggers, backyard gardeners, restaurants, us…it’s just overwhelming. After our last community raising dinner and all the meaningful conversations there, we took a deep breath and decided — in the immortal words of Nike — to just do it. We’ve got some land, we’ve got some seeds, we’ve got major Home Ec skills, we’ve got a bunch of people that are ready to learn, we’ve got you and everyone who’s ready to get ideas in motion. And we’ve got it all on a pared down, intimate, personal and meaningful scale.
We’re doing less, so we can accomplish more.
Our new sites are smaller and manageable to make it easier to have a meaningful exchange with the low-income residents we serve. We’ll coordinate training and production at these smaller, close-knit sites. Each site will know its own, local needs — what kind of distribution plan (ie: how much to neighbors, how much to market), what kind of homesteading programs (ie: canning, nutrition, sewing, cleaning products), etc. All with the added benefits of helping residents develop marketable skills and entrepreneurial opportunities.
So, our effort is to get folks to the table (literally) to eat, talk and create. Once you get going, it’s easy, makes perfect sense and feels right. It all begins with baby steps. For instance, resist the temptation to send an email. Write to someone on paper every now and again (on recycled, homemade or seed-filled paper!). Resist in little and big ways. When we do, we might just grow something…because resistance is fertile!